I was mighty impressed by BenQ's PE8700 DLP projector, reviewed in the June 2004 UAV. Now its replacement, the PE8700+, has been launched, and it's no letdown. True, the price has gone up a couple of big ones over the PE8700's closeout price of $6000. But in compensation, the new model gives you the new Texas Instruments 16:9 DMD, the HD2+.
At first glance, Pioneer's new flagship universal DVD player bears a close physical resemblance to its predecessor, the DV-47Ai. And like the earlier model, the new DV-59AVi also includes two i.LINK (IEEE1394) Advanced Resolution Digital Audio Interfaces. These are designed to carry the digital DVD-Audio and SACD high-resolution audio datastreams to select Pioneer receivers—and, perhaps, to other IEEE1394-equipped products, though cross-manufacturer compatibility is not guaranteed.
Two years ago, when I visited the B&W facilities in Worthing, England, I heard a demonstration of that company's then-new flagship, the Signature 800 ($16,000/pair). I salivated at the prospect of reviewing a home theater package anchored by these impressive speakers, but ultimately put off requesting them in favor of slightly more manageable and affordable designs.
"Universal" DVD players are the new hot item for audiophiles who want it all. They still serve a niche market, but even casual buyers are beginning to run into them in Wal-Mart. One manufacturer, Toshiba, has even broken the $200 price barrier with two new models that were expected to be on dealers' shelves as we went to print. I'd be surprised if other companies didn't soon follow suit.
Of the several good test DVDs available for optimizing the audio and video performance of a home theater system, the best known are <I>Digital Video Essentials</I> and the <I>Avia Guide to Home Theater</I>. Either will guide a consumer, step by step if necessary, to get the most from his or her equipment, particularly the video. In fact, most serious videophiles probably own both DVDs, along with a copy of DVE's predecessor, <I>Video Essentials</I>.
<I>Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly, Tony Goldwyn, Hiroyuki Sanada, Koyuki. Directed by Edward Zwick. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French). Two discs. 154 minutes. 2003. Warner Home Video 28383. R. $29.95.
It's a new world. Though many of us lament the passing of the CRT as the premier video-display technology in most manufacturers' catalogs, that passing is happening rapidly. One of the favored alternatives is LCD, in both flat-panel and rear-projection designs. The latter, which use small LCD panels in conjunction with a projection lamp and optical path, are at present the more economical of the two—particularly in the larger screen sizes.
After a brief flirtation with LCoS, Thomson has chosen Texas Instruments' DLP for their high-end RCA Scenium line of rear-projection televisions. Even CRT fans must admit that DLP has some advantages. It usually produces a sharper, brighter image than any but the best, most expensive CRT designs. Big-screen DLP models are smaller and weigh less than their tube-based counterparts. And it's even possible to build DLP sets that are almost as shallow as plasmas. Thomson plans to introduce such thin DLP models this fall.
<I>Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, Djimon Hounsou, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger. Directed by Jim Sheridan. Aspect ratios: 1.85:1 (anamorphic), 4:3 (full screen). Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (Spanish, French). 105 minutes. 2002. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 2221671. PG-13. $27.98.